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School for Scoundrels (1960)

Approved | | Comedy | 24 March 1960 (UK)
A young man finds a very special school. It teaches him how to take advantage of people. He begins to put the lessons into operation.


Robert Hamer, Hal E. Chester (uncredited) | 1 more credit »


Stephen Potter (novels), Patricia Moyes (screenplay) | 1 more credit »




Cast overview, first billed only:
Ian Carmichael ... Henry Palfrey
Terry-Thomas ... Raymond Delauney
Alastair Sim ... Mr. S. Potter
Janette Scott ... April Smith
Dennis Price ... Dunstan
Peter Jones ... Dudley
Edward Chapman ... Gloatbridge
John Le Mesurier ... Head Waiter
Irene Handl ... Mrs. Stringer
Kynaston Reeves Kynaston Reeves ... General
Hattie Jacques ... 1st Instructress
Hugh Paddick Hugh Paddick ... Instructor
Barbara Roscoe ... 2nd Instructress
Gerald Campion Gerald Campion ... Proudfoot
Monte Landis Monte Landis ... Fleetsnod (as Monty Landis)


Based on the Stephen Potter "One Upmanship" and "Lifemanship" books, Henry Palfrey tries hard to impress but always loses out to the rotter Delauney. Then he discovers the Lifeman college run by "Professor" Potter and discovers the secrets of success. But has he the courage to put all his lessons into effect? Written by Steve Crook <steve@brainstorm.co.uk>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Learn to gain weight by LOSING scruples! See more »




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Did You Know?


The "Winsome Welshmen" car salesmen change the price of the Swiftmobile. It starts off at £725, but they quickly lower it to £715. They lower it again to £700. Finally, Dunstan Dorchester suggests "695 guineas", which Henry Palfrey accepts! 695 guineas is £729 15s: higher than the original starting price. (A guinea is one pound sterling and one shilling.) Compared to 1960, £730 in 2019 would be worth about £16,000 (c. $20,500). See more »


When Henry is trying to get a table at the restaurant, the position of the head waiter changes between shots when Henry tries to look at the reservations book. See more »


Mr. Potter: Just remember, if you're not one up on the other fellow, then he's one up on you.
See more »


Referenced in Endeavour: Apollo (2019) See more »

User Reviews

Classic bit of wicked humour!
9 April 2003 | by bob the mooSee all my reviews

When Henry Palfrey meets the lovely young April Smith he thinks he has things good. However a meeting with them and Raymond Delauney sees Palfrey made to look a fool by the caddish Delauney. To counter his wishy washy ways, Palfrey joins the `Lifemanship' school of Mr Potter. Here he learns all the ploys of a cad. Upon completion of the course he sets his sight on Delauney – but can he avoid becoming that which he hates?

Terry Thomas is famous for his lecherous wretch and here he not only plays it to perfection, but also gets out played at his own game. The plot here is in three acts. Firstly the caddish Delauney outplays Palfrey. Second act Palfrey attends the school and finally Palfrey returns to his life a changed man. All three acts play out very well for different reasons, only the end of act 3 drags a little bit but ends well. The gentle comedy of the time runs through it – it is a very English film in its own way. I enjoyed the vast majority of it.

Ian Carmichael appears a weak choice for the lead but his transformation from coward to cad is well played and he was actually very good. Thomas is well cast although this is what he is famous for I suppose. Sim is pretty good but given too little to do and there are some nice little cameos from Hattie Jacques and (even better) John Le Mesurier.

Overall this is very slight but it is also very enjoyable. It isn't hilarious but it is a very enjoyable film with a good sense of wicked humour running through the film.

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Release Date:

24 March 1960 (UK) See more »

Also Known As:

School for Scoundrels or How to Win Without Actually Cheating See more »

Filming Locations:

Lambeth, London, England, UK See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA Sound Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
See full technical specs »

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